Traffic fears near quarry become reality neighbors say

first_imgNeighbors fault Yacolt quarry for well woesThe winding, two-lane county roads that connect Yacolt Mountain to State Highway 503 weren’t built to handle loaded gravel trucks traveling at 50 mph. In 2002, Clark County hearings examiner J. Richard Forester warned that the roads weren’t safe for the volume of heavy truck traffic a proposed mountaintop rock quarry would generate. At peak production, quarry developers estimated that up to 410 trucks per day, each weighing 105,000 pounds, would haul rock and gravel off the mountain and through a rural residential neighborhood to Highway 503, the nearest state route. “I conclude that this quarry is a desirable objective in the wrong place because in this instance, it cannot be served by adequate roads,” Forester wrote. “Safety will not be furthered by putting more heavy trucks on these roads.” He denied a zone change for the Yacolt Mountain Quarry. The following year, Clark County commissioners overruled Forester on a 2-1 vote and granted the zone change, allowing landowner Brent Rotschy and mining company J.L. Storedahl & Sons to develop a 100-acre quarry to provide aggregate for road construction. As a condition of granting the permit, the county said the intersection of Highway 503 and Northeast Gabriel Road must be improved.“The problem was that Gabriel Road came into 503 at a sharp angle, making it difficult for large trucks to safely make the turn onto 503,” said Steve Schulte, transportation manager for the Clark County Department of Public Works. But six years after the permit was granted, the intersection improvements at Gabriel Road have not been made. Instead, since the quarry began operating in September 2008, loaded trucks — some owned by Storedahl and some by its contractors — have made the trip south on Northeast Kelly Road to Lucia Falls Road and on to Highway 503. Under a binding covenant, only empty trucks are allowed to use the Gabriel Road intersection until the improvements are made.last_img read more